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International legal theory comprises a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used to explain and analyse the content, formation and effectiveness of public international law and institutions and to suggest improvements.
Some approaches center on the question of compliance: why states follow international norms in the absence of a coercitive power that ensures compliance.
Other approaches focus on the problem of the formation of international rules: why states voluntarily adopt international law norms, that limit their freedom of action, in the absence of a world legislature ; while other perspectives are policy oriented: they elaborate theoretical frameworks and instruments to criticize the existing norms and to make suggestions on how to improve them.
Some of these approaches are based on domestic legal theory, some are interdisciplinary, and others have been developed expressly to analyse international law.
Classical approaches to International legal theory are the Natural law, the Eclectic and the Legal positivism schools of thought.

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